Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson:
Research career qualifications and requirements

Materials needed:
Note taking device, or other online occupation browsing tool


This lesson will likely require two sessions of working with students.

“We have considered many career options that take your interests into account. Today we will narrow your list to five careers and begin to research their specifics.”

Facilitate the lesson with an exciting example such as: “Let’s say you want to build roller coasters as a career. Before pursuing that career path, you’ll want to understand the skills and education required so you can make sure you’re adequately prepared. You’ll also want to know the median wages earned and job availability in the field so you can manage your expectations for the job search and your eventual income. You will also want to understand how roller coaster building can be accessible with a visual impairment.”

Exercise: Focusing on Five Careers

Assist students in narrowing their lists of careers to approximately five. If a student omits a career based on requirements while researching, have him choose an additional career as a replacement.

Discussion: Required Skills

“As I mentioned, we will explore your five career selections. Before we begin, let’s discuss what you may want to investigate about the occupations you’ve identified and how we might find that information.”

Explain how each career requires specific skills. Example: A portrait photographer must be proficient in manipulating his camera’s shutter speed, aperture, and ISO while focusing on the subject. He must also be competent in photo editing software. Each career also requires general skills. That same portrait photographer must possess good communication skills so that he or she can determine the client’s expectations prior to the photo shoot and clearly and professionally instruct the subject in posing at the photo shoot.

“Give me an example of some skills required of a successful high school student. It’s not a career, but it is something you know a lot about.” Examples of answers: Adhering to a dress code, promptness, studying, politely asking questions, time management, maintaining friendships, test taking, reading comprehension, etc.

Discussion: Required Education and Preparation

Explain how each career has educational requirements and/or recommendations. Here is a sample range of educational levels and the kind of job each might lead to:

  • No high school diploma required. (Example: manual laborer)
  • Vocational training, which is typically non-academic, but specific to a particular line of work. A high school diploma is not required to attend a vocational training program. (Example: mechanic)
  • Associate’s degree, a two-year academic degree. (Example: dental hygienist) 
  • Bachelor’s degree, a four-year academic degree with a specific focus. (Examples: elementary teacher, computer scientist)
  • Master’s degree, usually two years of advanced study in a specific subject or in preparation for a specific field. (Example: physician assistant)
  • PhD, MD, or JD degree, advanced academic or professional degree taking anywhere from three to seven or more years to complete. (Examples: university professor, medical doctor, judge)

Discussion: Salaries

Explain that, in general, the more advanced the educational and skill requirements for a given job, the higher the salary will be. There are certainly exceptions. Discuss why it’s important to consider potential income for any chosen career, and how your income is directly tied to whether or not you will be able to afford rent or a mortgage, transportation, medical care or insurance, recreational activities, and retirement saving.

Discussion: Accessibility

Explain that considering if and how a given career is accessible is an important step in career exploration. Discuss why gaining proficiency in related assistive technology can directly affect the chances of gaining employment in a chosen field.

Exercise: Research Five Careers

Using Career One Stop’s career exploration search, or a similar tool, the students should determine the skills and education requirements, as well as a median salary and job outlook for each of their five occupations. Assist students in identifying the range of assistive technologies (AT) that might be important to complete the duties required by each position.

Discussion: Results

Ask your students what each learned during the lesson, and solicit thoughts about the explored careers. Have their feelings about potential careers changed with their new knowledge?


 “Today we discussed what to research when considering your future careers, including the skills necessary to succeed, the educational requirements or recommendations, the median salaries, and the accessibility for each career. We explored your top five careers. Next time you will select one career and we will develop an action plan, identifying steps you can take to meet the requirements.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, modifications:

Next steps/lesson:
Developing an action plan.